Guest editor Heather Peck, has kindly shared her notes from the conference call with Rhonda Thissen on 8/23/2017. Heather Peck is Executive Director at LMECC (Laurie Mitchell Empowerment and Career Center) in Alexandria, VA.
Action Plan Options, Chronologically
____ VOCAL Advocacy call Thursday. VOCAL will host a advocacy call on Thursday, August 24 at 6pm to give more time to the issue of the Mental Health Block Grant.
1-866-423-8755 Guest code: 271381
Submit talking points now to VOCAL and during advocacy call. VOCAL will share advocacy talking points by _____, which we can use Friday for SAMHSA comments and for future letters to Governor and US and VA legislators.
____ A public hearing on the block grant application has been scheduled for Friday, August 25, 2017, from 10 AM to 12 PM on the 2nd floor meeting room 1237 at the DBHDS Central Office, which is located at 1220 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23218. The public is encouraged to attend and MHBG/SAPTBG comments made at the meeting and via email to Rhonda.Thissen@nulldbhds.virginia.gov and snail mail received by August 31,2017 at DBHDS addressed to Rhonda Thissen will be submitted to SAMHSA along with the MHBG and SAPTBG Commonwealth of Virginia application.
____ “Heart to Heart ~ Unifying Recovery and Wellness Advocacy Efforts Meeting” after MHBG Meeting: Invitation for people attending DBHDS Comment Session. Location to be determined while at DBHDS. Potentially lunch with new and old friends too!!! Please Richmond folks, organize us and guide us where to meet!!!! Bring your own snacks, lunch if preferred.
____ US Congressional Budget Advocacy… Please visit the office and send personal notes and organizational letters via email and snail mail and phone your member of US House of Representatives and Senators Kaine and Warner with your Federal Budget Advocacy to sustain and increase MHBG & SAPTBG funding because of what a positive difference it makes for constituents in their Congressional District and for Virginians.
____ Governor McAuliffe Budget Advocacy by mid-September… Please send personal notes and organizational letters via email and snail mail and phone our Governor to build his VA FY2019 BUDGET PLAN TO MAKE UP FOR potential losses of SAMHSA funding and request additional funding needs for MH/SA recovery and wellness. Please sustain and increase MHBG & SAPTBG funding for organizations receiving Block Grant Funding where there is evidence that our MH/SA Recovery and Wellness outcomes deserve more funding…
____ Virginia General Assembly Budget Advocacy… We can make specific plans for this. Please visit the office, send personal notes and organizational letters via email and snail mail and phone your Delegate and Senator of Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly with your State Budget Advocacy to sustain and increase MHBG & SAPTBG funding because of what a positive difference it makes for constituents in their Congressional District and for Virginians.
Understanding MHBG and SAPTBG Context for FY2019:
MHBG and SAPTBG are formula grants. SAMHSA uses a formula to determine grant amounts to Virginia. 75% of MHBG goes to CSB’s for adult and children. The $3 Million Dollar cut that is on the table is consistent with the President of the USA Budget that he submitted earlier this year. US Congress, House and Senate Budget Reconciliation, determines SAMHSA MHBG and SAPTBG budget that will go to President. If no US Congress Budget, then some form of Government Funding Continuing Resolution is made. We do not know exactly how much and when the final FY19 MHBG and SAPTBG funding will be determined.
No cuts are planned because FY19 budget must go through Congress. Congress very well MIGHT put through less budget cuts to SAMHSA MHBG.
Historical perspective is that when 5.5% MHBG budget cuts happened, CSB’s, VOCAL, NAMI, and MHAV were cut. Smaller Programs were not cut and were “held harmless” due to small size of programs, proportionately greater harm from cuts, plus lack of smaller PRP revenue opportunites.
Rhonda will keep us posted on FY2019 MHBG/SAPTBG actual amounts when SAMHSA tell her what Virginia will actually receive.
Additional Advocacy Opportunities:
____ Governor McAuliffe Budget Advocacy…. Increase DMAS reimbursement rate for CPRS by mid-September.
____ Governor McAuliffe Budget Advocacy…. Create Commonwealth of Virginia funding stream for Recovery Community Organizations and Peer Run Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery organizations by mid-September.